From Media Matters, we get the story, and I hope you’re sitting down for this, that “Fox & Friends” made a teeny, um, “error” this morning that just coincidentally happened to help push Fox’s agenda. See, the Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates six measures of unemployment, with the U3 measure, which counts active job seekers who are completely out of work, being most often cited. The sixth measure, U6, often gets mentioned as a more accurate reflection of the job market than U3, because U6 includes those who have stopped looking for work as well as those who are underemployed (i.e., part time workers who would like full time employment). Regardless of your own particular feelings about the merits of the various unemployment measures out there, U6 is undeniably a broader measure than U3, and will always be the higher of the two figures since everyone who gets counted under the U3 measure also gets counted under U6, and U6 then also counts categories of folks who don’t get counted under U3.
Well, the crack team at “Fox & Friends” realized that they had an expose on their hands, because by looking at something they’re calling the “real unemployment rate,” unemployment under the Obama Administration has actually gone through the roof, from a relatively small 7.8% when he took office to a whopping 14.7% today! This is the “real” unemployment measure, mind you, which you’ll only find on Fox News and not in any of the lamestream media who are all communist collaborators with the traitor Kenyan Marxist yadda yadda yadda. Well, of course, Fox’s “real unemployment rate” looks at the U3 number from the beginning of Pres. Obama’s term and compares it with the necessarily much higher U6 rate of today. In related news, if you compare Nolan Ryan’s 100 MPH fastball with the ~67,000 MPH speed of the Earth moving around the sun, it’s amazing he struck out so many batters with that pitiful slowball. If you compared just U3 to U3, unemployment has risen from 7.8% to 8.1%, and U6 to U6 gives you an increase from 14.2% to 14.7%.
(Removed video because it’s no longer on YouTube and WordPress doesn’t seem to like embedding Media Matters’ video format)
I think my favorite part is where Laura Ingraham says, “Other than Fox News, where are you really seeing those statistics?” Where indeed? Or maybe it’s the part where she keenly picks apart actual statistics showing that growth of the federal government has decreased since President Obama took office with the unassailable logical argument that “it doesn’t feel that way.” Seems like an airtight case to me.
Although the bit where Gretchen Carlson says very seriously that the Labor Department should not be politicized like this, what with all the finagling of the numbers that in fact Fox & Friends had just finagled, that’s pretty awesome too.
But I can’t stop there, because although “ha ha, ‘Fox & Friends’ did some dumb thing, let’s point and laugh” blogging is richly rewarding in its own way, reading the description of this episode in the Leading Newspaper in Our Nation’s Capital is an exercise in how the media can’t stop couching its work in tame, non-threatening gibberish even on something as ridiculous as this, even on their blog platforms, and even when the writer agrees with the criticism. Erik Wemple does “a reported opinion blog on news media” on the Post‘s website, and in tackling this particular story he goes with the title “‘Fox & Friends’ botches unemployment comparison,” which seems straightforward enough. But then you read the piece, and you get writing like this:
Media Matters makes the case “Fox & Friends” comparison of “real”* unemployment rates — shorthand for a more comprehensive measurement than the traditionally cited official unemployment rate—is off the mark.
The rap against “Fox & Friends” here is that it used a smaller rate for the 2009 figure — that is, the official unemployment rate — and compared it against the 2012 “real” unemployment rate
Well, sorry, but no. Media Matters isn’t “mak[ing] the case” that “Fox & Friends” lied, or screwed up, or whatever you want to call it. “Fox & Friends” lied (screwed up, whatever), full stop. This is not “the rap against ‘Fox & Friends,'” is it instead what “Fox & Friends” did. There’s no “he said, she said,” here; Fox objectively got this wrong (whether they did so intentionally or mistakenly is unknowable and not really relevant to this particular point), but here’s the Post‘s media blogger, who is either consciously or unconsciously afraid to just say that Fox was wrong, and opts for the “some say” construction that Media Matters “makes the case” that Fox was wrong. Was Fox actually wrong? Well, Mr. Wemple’s post title says yes, but his writing says “some people say they were wrong, but who really knows? I’ll report the controversy, you decide for yourself!”
I don’t think and can’t imagine that Mr. Wemple intended to convey this message in his piece, which is why it strikes me as an excellent example of the deep-rooted establishment media aversion to reporting objective fact for fear of alienating audience or potential sources, of being “truth vigilantes.” If the Post‘s media blogger can’t step out from behind the cover of “some say” even on something as minor as this, something on which Fox was so objectively wrong that they’re actually going to issue a correction about it tomorrow, what chance is there that their real reporters will take the risk of reporting objective fact on matters of real substance?